In a 75-page opinion in the recent Parker v. District of Columbia, 04-7041 (D.C.Cir, 9 Mar 2007), the D.C. Circuit struck down parts of D.C. gun laws and affirmed a broad Second Amendment right to bear arms:
[J]ust as the First Amendment free speech clause covers modern communication devices unknown to the founding generation, e.g., radio and television, and the Fourth Amendment protects telephonic conversation from a “search,” the Second Amendment protects the possession of the modern-day equivalents of the colonial pistol. See, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27, 31-41 (2001) (applying Fourth Amendment standards to thermal imaging search). That is not to suggest that the government is absolutely barred from regulating the use and ownership of pistols. The protections of the Second Amendment are subject to the same sort of reasonable restrictions that have been recognized as limiting, for instance, the First Amendment. See Ward v. Rock Against Racism, 491 U.S. 781, 791 (1989) (“[G]overnment may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech . . . .”). Indeed, the right to keep and bear arms—which we have explained pre-existed, and therefore was preserved by, the Second Amendment—was subject to restrictions at common law. We take these to be the sort of reasonable regulations contemplated by the drafters of the Second Amendment. For instance, it is presumably reasonable “to prohibit the carrying of weapons when under the influence of intoxicating drink, or to a church, polling place, or public assembly, or in a
manner calculated to inspire terror . . . .” State v. Kerner, 107 S.E. 222, 225 (N.C. 1921). And as we have noted, the United States Supreme Court has observed that prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons does not offend the Second Amendment. Robertson, 165 U.S. at 281-82. Similarly, the Court also appears to have held that convicted felons may be deprived of their right to keep and bear arms. See Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55, 65 n.8 (1980) (citing Miller, 307 U.S. at 178). These regulations promote the government’s interest in public safety consistent with our common law tradition. Just as importantly, however, they do not impair the core conduct upon which the right was premised.
The Court thus holds that the D.C. requirement that a registered firearm be kept “‘unloaded and disassembled or bound by trigger lock or similar device, unless such firearm is kept at [a] place of business, or while being used for lawful recreational purposes within the District of Columbia.’, like the bar on carrying a pistol within the home, amounts to a complete prohibition on the lawful use of handguns for self-defense As such, we hold it unconstitutional.”
So, two sections held unconstitutional. In so doing, the D.C. Circuit joins the 5th Circuit as well as several State courts in holding that a broad individual right to bear arms is contemplated by the 2nd Amendment.
Next stop: Supreme Court.